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'inxect suit' carries plastic-eating mealworm colonies, sheltered by human body heat

‘inxect suit’: the human body as a waste management power plant 

 

Pavels Liepins designs ‘Inxect Suit’ — a low-carbon, wearable plastic waste management and protein harvesting system powered by mealworms and human emissions. Addressing key future concerns over both food insecurity and plastic pollution, the mobile regenerative device creates a symbiotic relationship between the human body and the mealworm colony. The suit integrates a habitat of mealworms sheltered by a terrarium and human body heat released from movement, employing the insect to safely consume and digest toxic plastic waste. The project further proposes the protein-dense insects as a low-energy and nutritious alternative of meat for human consumption.

'inxect suit' uses human body heat to house plastic-eating mealworm colonies
‘Inxect Suit’: a wearable plastic waste management and protein harvesting system

all images courtesy of Pavels Liepins

 

 

wearable plastic eating mealworms harvest protein 

 

With the ‘Inxect Suit’, designer Pavels Liepins fosters a mutualistic symbiosis where humans and mealworms can coexist, emphasizing the human body as a power plant generating heat through movement and utilizing mealworms as an underpinning solution to two threatening global issues. The suit consists of an enclosed PVC membrane lined with sheep wool, ensuring minimal heat loss from the human body. The user’s body heat and humidity are captures and channeled to provide shelter to an abdomen attachment housing a mealworm colony habitat. Within this dome-shaped terrarium, mealworms feed on plastics, digesting them and breaking down into high quality edible proteins. The suit shelters the unit from wind, rain, radiation, toxic waste and airborne pathogens making it ideal for operations in extreme environmental conditions. Attached sensors and logs which record temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels also allow the environment within the habitat to be continuously measured and controlled.

'inxect suit' uses human body heat to house plastic-eating mealworm colonies
the design challenges protein consumers to become an active agent in a small scale ecosystem

 

 

In a 2019 study carried out at Stanford University, researchers found that mealworms have the ability to safely eat and digest plastics without storing any toxic components in their bodies. Moreover, the insects can also easily be processed for human consumption as a low carbon footprint and protein dense alternative to conventionally grown meat. Their excrement in turn can also be used as fertilizers and bioplastics.

 

A prototype of the ‘Inxect Suit’ was first tested in the Faroe Islands in November 2020. Results showed that 200g of mealworms powered by human emissions can break down between 3-5 milligrams of polystyrene per hour, and within a day, a colony of 100 mealworms can break down 39 milligrams of polystyrene. Recently, the project has been awarded a Silver Prize in the category ‘Universal Design’ in the Design Educates Award.

'inxect suit' uses human body heat to house plastic-eating mealworm colonies
an abdomen attachment houses a mealworm colony habitat

inxect-suit-plastic-eating-mealworm-colonies-pavels-liepins-designboom-1

static and slow movement generate heat for the mealworms’ comfort

'inxect suit' uses human body heat to house plastic-eating mealworm colonies
a prototype was first tested in the Faroe Islands in November 2020

'inxect suit' uses human body heat to house plastic-eating mealworm colonies
the field studies showed that 200g of mealworms could break down between 3-5 milligrams of polystyrene per hour

'inxect suit' uses human body heat to house plastic-eating mealworm colonies
drawing of ‘Inxect Suit’

 

 

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Inxect Suit during field studies in Faroe Island
Inxect Suit during field studies in Faroe Island
the suit emphasizes the human body as a power plant generating heat through movement
the suit emphasizes the human body as a power plant generating heat through movement
‘inxect suit’ carries plastic-eating mealworm colonies, sheltered by human body heat
 
‘inxect suit’ carries plastic-eating mealworm colonies, sheltered by human body heat
 

project info:

 

name: The Inxect Suit
designer: Pavels Liepins

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions’ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: ravail khan | designboom

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